PARMA, Idaho – A Parma movie theater was put on lockdown Saturday night after several people began complaining of a burning sensation in their eyes.
It happened around 7:45 p.m. at the Motor Vu drive-in theater. The theater offered a Trunk-or-Treat event and then played a monster movie.
An EMS crew was on scene as part of the festivities and some people walked over to the ambulance, saying they felt a burning sensation in their eyes.
Many more people followed with a similar complaint and even the EMS crew was affected.
According to Parma Fire District Fire Chief James Cook, several fire and EMS crews were called onto the scene and the theater was locked down.
"Our idea was to keep control of the situation," Cook said.
Cook said it became apparent once they were on scene what the irritant was and called the lockdown so as not to create a panic.
That irritant was chloropicrin fumigant, which was used Friday in a field south of the drive-in. The fumigant is designed to kill bugs in the soil and is trenched into the soil about 6 to 10 inches. Occasionally, pockets of the fumigant get released into the air, which is what caused the reaction in the people at the theater.
Within 30 minutes, crews had evacuated people to the fire house and set up a triage center in order to treat those affected.
The triage center processed 178 people and five people were eventually transported to the hospital for further treatment.